BERLIN (JTA) — Several former German ambassadors to Israel applauded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to endorse the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the United Nations in September.
Addressing Merkel in a letter Tuesday, the six former ambassadors to Israel lashed out at 32 other retired German ambassadors and consuls who in an open letter in July had demanded that Merkel support the unilateral declaration.
The six envoys accused their colleagues of ignoring threats to Israel’s existence and urged Merkel to stay the course.
"Just as you have made it clear to [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas in Berlin that unilateral steps will not help, we ask that you represent this position assertively within the European Union," their letter read in part.
"The recognition of a Palestinian state is in our opinion only possible if it goes hand in hand with an explicit recognition and guarantee of the existence of the Jewish state."
The open letter was released jointly by Jochen Feilcke, head of the Berlin-Potsdam branch of the German-Israel Society, and Lea Rosh, head of the Foundation for the Establishment of a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Signing were retired German ambassadors to Israel Klaus Schutz, Niels Hansen, Wilhelm Haas, Franz Bertele, Theodor Wallau and Rudolf Dressler.
In explaining the letter, Feilke and Rosh suggested that the "five percent of retired living German ambassadors" who had accused Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in their letter of "violating ‘human rights’" were themselves guilty of a gross injustice.
"Parts of the Palestinian leadership ignore the existence of Israel. Other parts of the Palestinian leadership openly advocate the destruction of Israel," Feilke and Rosh wrote. "Apparently former top German diplomats are indifferent to this situation."
The 32 diplomats had argued that Merkel should recognize a Palestinian state in order to "end an unjust policy of occupation."
"We will never be dissuaded from our recognition of our historical, German responsibility for the existence of Israel," their letter read in part. "This makes it even more painful for us when the government of Israel ignores important basic common principles shared by western civilization."